Short term suspensions are addressed mainly by Section 100.2 of the New York State Commissioner's Regulations. Long term suspensions are addressed by Section 3214 of the New York State Education Law. The New York State Commissioner of Education can "fills in the blanks" when state law is not clear.
All out of school suspensions imposed by public schools in any state must follow the principles outlined in the federal case, Goss v. Lopez. The Supreme Court of the United States found that before a student may be suspended he must be given notice of the impending suspension and an opportunity to present his side of the story and to hear the evidence against him.
Goss involved protests taking place in several different school districts. When some of the protesters became unruly, several students were implicated even though they claimed to be bystanders in the action. The schools suspended the students without notice and without hearing their side of the story. On appeal, he Supreme Court found that the schools in question had violated the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and ordered them to clear the students' records of all the charges. This ruling applies to all public schools, including charter schools.
In assessing school discipline cases, your individual school's code of conduct applies as well. These codes often parrot state law but may contain additional protections for students. The codes of conduct may or may not contain all of the disciplinary rules for that district, however, and parents should be careful to obtain any school documentation regarding discipline rules, rights to a hearing or meeting, and appeal rights by asking the school for these documents, which are available under NY State Freedom of Information laws and should be given out at the beginning of the school year--in the student handbook, parent handbook or even in board meeting notes. They can also be found on the school's website.
Timelines to appeal short-term suspensions, in-school suspensions and detentions are very short, often as little as 5 business days or less, and parents need to act quickly in order to exercise their appeal rights. Long term- suspensions, which are imposed after a full hearing, likewise must be appealed to the board of education, and may have short timelines as well. Suspensions can remain on the record for kids at all levels of education, which particularly effects high school students who are applying to colleges, military and law enforcement positions.
All schools, even private ones and charter schools, may be held accountable for violating a student's due process rights. Schools must always follow their own codes of conduct. If you have any questions you can contact our office at 516-864-3876. If you sign up for our newsletter, on the main page of the website, we will send you a copy via email.